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Why Do Cats Groom Each Other?
If you have more than one purring friend in your household, you have probably seen them occasionally groom and lick each other. The behavior of cats grooming each other is commonly referred to as allogrooming. When you saw them, you evidently smiled at how cute the incident was, and wondered, why do they groom each other? Let’s look at the various reasons that might attribute to this feline behavior.
They are just cleaning one another.
Cats often self-groom as a sign of hygienic behavior, which raises the debate of whether it could be the motivation when licking each other. After all, you have often come across cats that don’t share household grooming. The neck and head are problematic areas for the cat to groom itself. You often see them wet their paws and clean their necks and heads. What if the cats appreciate a hand of help with their grooming and leaking routine from another cat? We don’t know for sure, but it is certainly possible.
A social connection
According to a feline organization scientist study, allogrooming mostly takes place among felines who have an existing social bond. Cats that are outsiders of a particular colony cannot participate in allogrooming until they are integrated and accepted in the colony. A feline will not groom another cat that is not familiar with, which shows social bonding has a huge role in allogrooming. Cats that are very close to each other, either siblings or being together for a long time, groom to show affection and a sign that they have formed a trusting and close bond. The licking also helps to transfer the cats’ smell to the rest of the social group to identify each other as a social family when searching for each other.
Another possible reason why felines lick and groom each other is maternal instinct. When a mother cat gives birth, the kitties rely on the mother for everything. Hence, the mother uses her tongue to bathe and groom her young ones as a sign of protection and affection. Mother cats clean their kitties immediately after birth to eliminate the smells related to birth that could draw predators. It is also essential for the kitties to smell like their mother for easier identification and protection. By four weeks, kittens start bathing themselves, and still, they spend half their lives grooming themselves.
A sign of dominance
According to scientific research, higher-ranking cats in their hierarchy groom the lower-ranking cats more than vice versa. More so, allogroomers often take the higher posture of sitting upright or standing, while allogroomes often stays in a horizontal or sitting position as a sign of submissiveness. Therefore, cat allogrooming is a possible way for cats to redirect their aggression and reaffirm dominance in a much better way than doing so through violent and aggressive behavior. In simpler terms, the cat displays dominance by grooming the other cat instead of getting into a fight in which one or both might get hurt.
So, now you understand why cats groom each other. They do it for various reasons, including for bonding and social acceptance. Scientists term this feline behavior as social grooming or allogrooming, and it is mostly believed to be associated with feline maternal instincts. But whatever the precise reason might be, one thing is for sure; it is so adorable!
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